The first thing I noticed after the credits rolled and I walked out of Eton Square cinema with half a box of Hot Tamales and an almost empty cup of Diet Dr Pepper was that the title made no sense. She was Brave I suppose. Her clan and kingdom was pretty gnarly and rugged and all those rough and tough viking/scottsmen were brave I guess. But there wasn’t a character named Brave and it certainly wasn’t the underlying theme of the flick. Merida is a young Scottish Princess in an early Scottish kingdom. She, like Mulan, doesn’t seem to fit into her predetermined role as a girl of this age. Her mother, like Kensai in Brother Bear, gets turned into a bear. Then Merida spends the remainder of the film trying to turn her madre’ back into a human again before the last petal on a magic rose falls and she’s stuck as a beast. It didn’t happen exactly that way, but it was yet another refurbished element from a series of Disney stories that combined make up Brave.
Not that this was a bad movie at all. I was just a little taken back. I mean, not once in the many trailers I saw did they show her Mother Bear. I didn’t know there was a magic Stonehenge Witch involved or any of the supernatural elements that brought Merida into her adventure. What I thought this movie was going to be about was a red headed Scott girl running around trying to prove she was more than just somebodies future wife. She steps to the line and fires arrows for her own hand. That was another heavily showcased theme from the trailers. She is an archer. It’s in the posters, every still, and each scene shown in every trailer, Merida with her bow. Her flaming red hair all askew and wild like the character herself, she stands proud. She was certainly an archer but it wasn’t so much a part of her character that she was the female Robin Hood.
The character herself was fun. It was nice to see a Disney Princess that is as strong and powerful as any lead male role. That over all was the redeeming quality of the film, the characterization. Her father was proud and powerful, comical and everyman. Her mother was strong willed and determined, and her Queenly manor came across in both her abilities to lead her house as well as her ability to command herself in maintaining the image and respect a Queen should present. These are the qualities she wants to imbue into her resistant daughter, and that’s where the folly begins Merida buys a spell from a witch to “change” her mother so that her destiny can be changed as well. She gets more than she bargained for, literally.
The tale over all was good. It wasn’t epic and it won’t steal your heart away or stay with you forever as some Disney animated stories have in the past. I can’t say it was wholly original, it certainly seemed like Brother Bear/Beauty and the Beast/ Mulan etc. The title isn’t as accurate as Monster’s Inc., Finding Nemo, or Toy Story but these things are trivial. Merida herself is worth a notch in the Disney Princess totum and it’ll be nice to see more Katniss-like heroin shaping the future (she made the Princess line for sure too, I saw the toys at Target today). The animation was great, as should be expected, with a fun style and brilliant atmosphere. Her hair was awesome, and the funny was just enough, not over the top or run into the ground as some animated films are want to do lately. I give Brave a 4 out of 5. I’ll certainly watch it again when it’s on Netflix or HBO OnDemand.
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